Most of the luxury estates Richard Perrone has built over the past three decades have ranged anywhere from 8,500 square feet to 20,000 square feet. This fresh, Caribbean-inspired house isn’t one of those. With its inlaid floors, tongue-and-groove ceilings, solid-core doors, and vestibules, it certainly rivals the others in finish detail. The difference is that it’s a comparatively modest 3,729 square feet.
The “jewel box,” as Perrone calls it, marks the experimental beginnings of a 14-unit development known as Spice Bay. Perrone and his sons realized they were on to something when the prototype sold for $1.85 million to a client who had previously bought two homes, each more than twice its size.
“We built this as a character home to exemplify what we envisioned for the new subdivision,” says Perrone, who typically builds six or seven homes a year in and around Sarasota, Fla. “For a while, the mindset was more is better, but for some that’s changing. There are people who previously would have come down to Florida and built a 7,000-square-foot home. They still want good design, but now they are realizing they can make it work in 3,500 square feet.”
Offering a “casual barefoot kind of elegance” with plenty of indoor/outdoor living spaces, the first home at Spice Bay enjoys all the trappings of an upscale neighborhood, including lush landscaping and a community boat dock. It doesn’t have the billiard rooms, home theaters, wood-paneled libraries, or catering kitchens that are common to the builder’s larger villas, but its details and craftsmanship are comparable.
“We’re using a lot of the same materials, just in a smaller package,” the builder explains, noting specs such as Marvin or Kolbe & Kolbe windows; Sub-Zero and Viking appliances; Lutron lighting systems; and spray foam insulation behind the walls. “We’re still paying attention to architectural details. The idea is simply that clients can avoid going bigger than their needs. We’re not talking about small homes; just homes that are a more justifiable size.”
As it happens, Perrone Construction is now under contract to build its next house at Spice Bay—a 4,000-square-foot residence on the lot next door to the first. This one is for the son of a client the builder first built for in 1987. The company has also broken ground on similar jewel boxes elsewhere in Sarasota and is “seeing a nice little uptick in contracts” as a result.
Are the days of the 10,000-square-foot chateau over for this builder? Not necessarily. “Our focus is still on giving the customer whatever they want,” Perrone says. Some still want the fully loaded XXL model (and always will) but there are others who are starting to think differently and opting for smaller portion sizes.
“We met with some clients two days ago who said quite frankly that they could afford an 8,000-square-foot home, but they don’t need one,” he says. “They want the same level of quality but on a smaller scale. It’s a good time to build from a cost standpoint, and it’s probably an excellent time to finance with rates being where they are.”
Especially if you’re financing a little less house.